Monthly Archives: December 2012

I’m Dreaming of a White Christmas

Merry Christmas from Harrisburg, PA!!! We are on Day 5 of our Christmas and New Year’s 18-day odyssey. My colitis is trying to keep up with my late night card playing and not being at our house. It’s like my body knows that I’m not at home. Haha. But it has been so wonderful to be with my family and Jon’s family (which is also my family? Yes :)) and now it is a beautiful white Christmas…so I definitely couldn’t ask for anything more. Love and happy digestion to all!

View from the front porch

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Going around the corner

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George’s car

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Scene from the back porch

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Footsteps in the snow

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So pretty!

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Food, more food!

I was a little off with my “I’ll post more recipes tonight” comment in my last post.  :)  But here I am with some more food now.

This first recipe is originally from Sisterfriend…she brought me this delicious salad on Mama’s birthday and we ate it in the parking lot of Swallow’s Inn!  haha.  It was soooo good that I’ve made it with friends multiple times since then.  We’ll be enjoying it tonight too!

Sister’s eggplant with hummus and beet salad

1 eggplant sliced to ¼ inch thick pieces
hummus
cherry or grape tomatoes cut in half
slivered or sliced almonds, to taste
1 lemon, most of it for the juice, but cut 8-10 super thin slices, like paper thin
3-4 beets, diced
1 apple, diced
arugula
goat cheese (optional)

Heat the eggplant slices up in a skillet over medium heat until soft. You don’t even need oil, it softens on it’s own, shouldn’t stick. While that’s heating, toss together the arugula, apples, beets, almonds, tomatoes and goat cheese with the lemon juice and lemon slices.  Place one or two eggplant slices on the plate.  Slather hummus generously on each piece.  Top with the salad mixture and enjoy!  Serves about 4.  PS-you can buy the beets at Trader Joe’s already all done and ready to be cut.  Really easy.

Here’s a final recipe before I leave for dinner.  It’s what we had last night and it was great.  Yes, I am still eating fish from time to time because it doesn’t seem to affect my stomach like meat and dairy.

Alisa’s Traditional Salmon Dinner for 2

2 fillets of salmon
1 cup “power rice” (½ cup cooked brown rice and ½ cup cooked quinoa mixed together)
1 white or red onion, sliced into rings
2 veggies of your choice….last night we used broccoli and kale

Heat the oven to 350°.  Bake the salmon with freshly cracked pepper and a tiny bit of sea salt for 35-40 minutes.  During the last 5 minutes, throw a ton of broccoli into the oven with the fish.  Then saute the onion on low with a little bit of water (no oil required, there’s a decent amount of liquid in the onion already).  Once it’s 90% there, throw in a bunch of kale, and cover for the last few minutes.  Distribute the rice on the plates first, top with salmon. Layer the onions and kale half on the salmon, half off (it’s all about presentation).  Broccoli goes on the side!  Voila!  I also used a little bit of ponzu sauce on the kale (ponzu=equal parts lemon juice and soy sauce with diced green onions) but not too much because that is a ton of salt.

Off to the Pirazzinis for dinner!  No Music Corner tonight, just listening to the rain.  :)

Categories: Cleansing, Colitis, Recipes | Tags: , , , | 5 Comments

Recipes!

My beautiful cousin requested some recipes for getting a healthier kick to life.  There are SO many different great websites and cookbooks for this sort of thing.  I’ll give you a bunch of resources and then also some good recipes that I’ve been making lately.

First to mention is definitely Kris Carr.  I’ve been slightly obsessed with her story, her book and her recipes lately.  I identify a lot with her and she has a fun writing style, so it’s been good to learn from her.  Here’s a link to her online recipes.

Taking a step back to educating myself about health, a big game changer for me was watching Forks Over Knives….do yourself a favor and watch it right now.  Even just the first half hour.  I’ve seen Food Inc, watched Jamie Olver’s Food Revolution, read Fast Food Nation, and still through all of that, I was a pretty ardent meat and cheese eater.  This movie either came at the right time or it just did a good job at explaining things.  Either way, it seriously shifted how I approach my plate.  I hadn’t been that woken up since Michael Pollan who also shifted me into higher thinking with his books (which I need to re-read, it’s been a few years).  His mind-numbingly simple and profound slogan on In Defense of Food reads: Eat food.  Not too much.  Mostly plants.  Man.  Can’t get more simple than that!!  Make it the caveat of eating REAL food (not overly processed crapola) and you are there!

But back to recipes….two things that I’ve learned are hugely important in trying to balance my insides are my pH levels and the amount of inflammatory food that I’m eating.  Dr. Robert Young wrote the pH Miracle and it makes so much sense.  Keep more alkaline foods in your body and disease doesn’t want to hang out there!  Also, Dr. Andrew Weil’s anti-inflammatory food pyramid makes some sense for my body too.  Although I’m being much more strict than that in my healing phase (ie no meats, dairy or processed sugar at all).

Luckily, my new favorite person Joy Houston wrote out a ton of really good tasting, fast recipes that incorporate a lot of the concepts from all of these ideas.  She has a cookbook too that I’m sure I’ll end up getting at some point.

So there’s some homework for you to start in learning about what will (hopefully) make your body happy!  It’s a process, but with some baby steps and some giant steps, I think it’s all doable.  :)

Well crap, I am out of time and have to run.  Here is one recipe but I will put more up later tonight.  Love to all!

Healthy, Mexi-Salad

I adapted one of Joy’s recipes and made it last night for dinner.  It was quite delicious:

½ head romaine lettuce, chopped
¼ cup cooked brown rice
¼ cup cooked quinoa
½ cup black beans seasoned with cumin, pepper and chili powder
¼ cup diced mango
¼ cup diced white onion
¼ cup diced green onion
some cut up cilantro
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 tablespoons lime juice
sea salt and fresh cracked pepper to taste
dash Tapatío
½ diced avocado

In a large glass mixing bowl combine oil, lime juice, Tapatío, salt and pepper.  Taste dressing and adjust as needed.  Toss beans, rice, quinoa, mango, onions, and cilantro in the dressing.  Place a handful of lettuce on each plate, top with bean and rice mixture and some diced avocado.

You can adjust the amount of beans, rice or quinoa you are putting in depending how many peeps you are feeding.  This amount was good for me and Jon.

ALISA’S MUSIC CORNERmusic_notes

Today has been all about Stevie.  They have his entire collection on Spotify which is great.  I started backwards with the Down To Earth album, moved on to For Once In My Life, My Cherie Amour and am now halfway through Signed, Sealed, & DeliveredTalking Book next!  I don’t think I could ever hear these songs enough in my life.

Categories: Cleansing, Colitis, Recipes | Tags: , , , | 3 Comments

Moisture is the essence of wetness

green juice

I am finishing up Day 3 of an all-liquid phase of my cleanse.  I feel surrounded by liquids.  Yesterday was rough.  I broke down and made some Kitchari, which is a very basic Ayurvedic soup/stew with rice and sprouted mung beans.  I chopped up some carrots, celery, broccoli and zucchini and threw that in there too.  The recipe actually made a ton more than I thought it would, so I will be enjoying that over the next few days for lunch.  It was good, not great (I didn’t add in a ton of spices) but honestly, anything would have been good at that point, seeing as I hadn’t consumed whole food since Thursday night.  In the future, I will be adding more vegetables and spices to it and I think it could be a really delicious option for me.  My body was definitely happy with me so it was worth it.  I hit a wall yesterday afternoon and this brought me back some energy which was the goal.

Today is much better.  Everyone participating in the cleanse met this morning at 7:30am for a yin yoga class where you relax into postures for 3-5 minutes each.  We also had a guest lecturer on meditation who made meditation a lot more accessible and achievable.  Most importantly, we were able to commiserate about our highs and lows over the past few days.  I reintroduce whole foods tomorrow, and I’ve never been so excited to eat fruits and vegetables!  It’s amazing what foods start looking attractive after you haven’t eaten any for a few days.

Jumping topics (sort of), we had an incredible raw food chef, Joy Houston, come in last Wednesday to make us food and teach us about enzymes and cleansing in general.  Huge takeaways for me:

  • There are really creative recipes and food combinations that I need to get into!
  • Raw food is anything under 118° because that’s where most of the enzymes start breaking down
  • It’s okay to have a balance….Joy is a very realistic mother of two with a meat-eating husband.  Consequently, she has a creative and varied approach to making healthy, living meals that can include cooked grains, etc.
  • Overly cooked and processed foods are like zombies in your body….the body is not quite sure what to do with these foreign objects, so it wraps them in fat and sticks it to your butt.  Or maybe the toxins carry on all the way to your already compromised digestive system :)

Most importantly, I was reminded that cleansing is an amazing tool to not only rid the body of toxins, but also give the digestive system a break so that the body can get to work healing tissue and addressing other issues that the body is typically too distracted to get to.  It’s a like taking a week off of work so you can stay at home,  get down on your knees, and get that weird black stuff off the floor in front of your oven.  Stuff you usually don’t get to but can make a huge difference in your house.  This was a necessary motivation today as I made yet another green smoothie.  :)

I am hopeful that this time of rest in conjunction with stress reduction, meditation and as many Dinacharya practices as possible* will be beneficial for my mind, body and spirit.   Onward and upward!

PS-speaking of stress reduction, I found this graphic today from a recent survey on ihaveuc.com and it made me laugh out loud:

stress and uc

I must say that I agree…..and I’m glad I’m not alone!  The real reason it’s funny is because the first thing my GI told me when I was diagnosed with colitis was that it had nothing to do with stress OR diet.  Right.

music_notesALISA’S MUSIC CORNER

Today for background music, I am listening to the RedZone Channel on the ipad next to me.  :)  I missed the 10am cutoff to bet on the morning NFL games so I’m going with later games only.  I’m really glad because all three of the games I was going to take did not cover.  Hopefully that means the ones I did actually pick will work out!

*Edited to say that I do not engage in all of these practices  :)  During this cleanse, I have started to do the dry-brushing, neti pot (which I really strongly dislike), self-massage (ooh la la), prayer and meditation.  I have not worked in the meditation daily yet, but getting there.  I also stopped doing the neti because I really, really didn’t like it.  Maybe later when my body is more cleared up or something.  Sisterfriend loves it so I’m sure I will get there someday.

Categories: Cleansing, Colitis | Tags: , , | 5 Comments

FAQs

First of all, WOW!  Thank you to everyone who has already reached out to say “hey” or “cool” or “my other friend has colitis too!” or “we don’t care if you talk about poop.”  It has been really amazing and overwhelming to remember how lucky I am to be so surrounded by love and support from my family and friends.  So thank you.

Also, a lot of questions have already come up that I will try to answer.  In my head, the blog would be very logical and either follow a timeline or at least themes, but I can tell it’s going to be much more jumpy.  Which is fine.  Works for me.

Questions that people have about me and/or UC in general:

Does it hurt?  Are you in pain all the time?

No. I am rarely in actual pain which is great.  I do have some pain, but it’s usually when I’m actually going to the bathroom and it’s few and far between.  Much more often, I feel gross, bloated, uncomfortable, gassy and anxious.  I realized that I process my emotions through my stomach and it was my body’s way of compensating for a lot of other things. The toxins in my body love to start at my digestive system.  I also feel….pressure? I think is the word I’m looking for.  I sometimes feel physical pressure right at the rectum (which is where most of my inflammation is and where it started).  It kind of feels like I have to go to the bathroom, but really I don’t.  This is really weird to talk/write about, haha.

How are you feeling right now?

Right now, today, I am feeling fantastic.  I’ve been feeling fantastic for a few months.  On August 13, I decided to make a huge change.  I stopped taking my medication.  (My parents don’t know this yet!  aah!)  The 9 pills I was taking each day were obviously doing nothing for me anymore since I still had full flare-up symptoms every single day.  That same day, I started a super strict cleansing diet for about 3 weeks which consisted of only plant-based, whole foods.  Nothing processed, nothing else except whole, living foods.  I did cook some grains, etc.  But tried to do as many raw foods as possible.  It was the second time I’d tried to do something like this.  (I did a raw-food only situation for a few weeks in 2010.  It worked well but there were still other parts of my life that weren’t in balance so it didn’t give me full remission.)  Because of all of the balance I’d created everywhere else in my life, it really worked this time.  The bloody poop I’d been working with for so long (almost 8 years at that point) went away IN EIGHT DAYS.  Seriously.  It didn’t stay for too long, but just to have one day of no bloody poop with no medication was a miracle for me.  I was so happy.  I still am!  As of today, I typically have a few days in a row of no blood, then traces of blood, then a bit more, then traces of blood, then no blood for a few days.  It follows my period which is SUPER DUPER interesting.  Anyway, I’m off topic.  More on all of that later, but had to get a little bit out there now.

What are you eating now? Is it working?

I’m on Day 6 of another plant-based, whole foods cleanse/diet.  I hate the word diet because of the negative connotations, so know that when I say “diet” I just mean, food that I’m eating.  Anyway, I had veered off of the path for a few months (late Sept-Nov) eating some bread, a little pasta, tortillas here and there, some cheese, some alcohol….not a lot of this stuff, but here and there.  In the future, I don’t see that stuff as bad in moderation, but for now, as I’m still trying to heal, I’m going to have to be super strict.  At least until I have a better balance and my body can more easily process the hard to process stuff.

Basically I’m eating mostly fruits and vegetables, but also grains, beans, nuts and seeds.  I feel amazing and fantastic.  The hardest part for me has always been the social side.  This weekend for example, I’m supposed to do all liquids for 3 days as part of the supported cleanse.  This weekend is also December Nights, a Christmas/going-away party for a guy in my building, and the annual watching of Badder Santa which usually involves a lot of white russians for some reason (probably because they are delicious).  I have a lot of social eating and drinking in my life.  Which is super fun, but it just isn’t going to work for me right now.  So I’m working on being excited about my modified diet and owning it instead of apologizing for it.  Usually when I’m doing these cleanses, I say “yeah, I know, it’s weird, it’s sucks but whatever, it’s only for a few weeks.”  This time I’m excited to say “Yeah, I know!  It’s great, it’s making me feel better and heal faster.  I’m proud of the work I am doing!”  We’ll see how that plays out in real life!!

I have so much more to talk about but I have to go to work!  We only have a few more days of the semester and my awesome students are waiting for me to give them a test and a really cool lecture on “where do I go from here with my life?”….I love my job.  :)

Talk to you all soon!

music_notesALISA’S MUSIC CORNER

I think it will be fun to also incorporate what I’m listening to right now because I love music and it’s fun to share.  I’m obsessed with Spotify recently because of the accessibility you have to everything.  Right now I’m listening to Little Dragon’s “Ritual Union” album.  They hooked me with the song “Twice” and I love to put them on in the background when I’m working on something.  Ironically, this seems like it would probably have been played on 94.9’s old Big Sonic Chill which I hated for years.  Oh well!

Categories: Colitis | Tags: , , , , , | 2 Comments

What is Ulcerative Colitis, exactly?

A great question.  I could go with a wikipedia answer (a form of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD)…It is a form of colitis, a disease of the colon (large intestine), that includes characteristic ulcers, or open sores. The main symptom of active disease is usually constant diarrhea mixed with blood, of gradual onset.) This is actually a really good description.  Or medicinenet describes it as “chronic inflammation of the large intestine (colon). Ulcers and inflammation of the inner lining of the colon lead to symptoms of abdominal pain, diarrhea, and rectal bleeding.”  That one is good too.

What I am coming to terms with in my own life is that ulcerative colitis has really become my teacher as well as my assignment.  After dealing with my tiny little ulcers for 8 years now (eek!), I have come to the conclusion that I am actually happy that I was diagnosed with it.  Or at least grateful.  There have been so many emotions and ailments and ups and downs and highs and lows with it all…but along the way, I have learned so much about my body, my mind, my spirit, and of course, my colon.  Until a few years ago, I was pretty sure a balanced diet meant sometimes getting a bean burrito instead of a bean tostada with my double decker taco.  I was living on a pretty strict diet of stress, Taco Bell, cereal and alcohol.  And lots of each.  At this point of my life, it is the norm for me to be brewing kombucha, teaching yoga and going through my vegetables to make sure I’m getting enough colors and nutrients for my body.  Without colitis, I’m really not sure where I would be right now.  But it probably would not be at the state of awesome health that I’m finding myself in.

But back to the point….ulcerative colitis has a really wide array of symptoms that are associated with it.  Many people have to go to the bathroom 10-20 times per day with UC.  I feel extremely fortunate that this particular symptom never came up with me.  But I do have the inflammation, the uncomfortable bloating, some urgency at times, and my favorite, the blood and mucousy stool.  For a long time, I would sit on the toilet for extended periods of time while trying to poop, even though nothing would actually come out.  And when it did, it was super loud and ridiculous sounding.  I try not to do that anymore because A) it’s a waste of time and B) I don’t think it was helping the situation.

At the end of the day, my colitis is not nearly as bad as some others that I’ve read about.  But it’s not exactly ideal either.  I’ve been in a constant “flare-up” (I use quotes because it’s really more of a norm) of bloody stool since November 2004.  It has gone away for a few weeks to a few months at a time using a variety of medication (more on this later) but nothing has really stuck yet.  I am extremely hopeful that my current lifestyle choices (MUCH more on this later) will help me stay out of my “flare-up” zone.  It’s only been a few days in a row so far, but I feel so much better that the minor traces of blood that I sometimes get now don’t bother me nearly as much.

To close out, here’s a super gross picture of exactly what my colon looked like last time I saw it, except I had more mucus:

UC_granularity

my colon on colitis

Hopefully that is the last time it will look like that!!  Only time will tell  :)

Categories: Colitis | Tags: , , , , | 2 Comments

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